Denyce Graves and Normandy High School students

Opera star Denyce Graves and Normandy High School choir director Duane Foster rehearsed students from Normandy High and Central Visual and Performing Arts High School to perform in the Opera Theatre  of Saint Louis Spring Sing in 2015.

The Normandy Schools Collaborative has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, “Our music teachers’ commitment and passion for music education is a driving force of excellence for our students,” said Duane M. Foster, Normandy Fine Arts teacher and coordinator. “Our students are strong, resilient, passionate, loyal, talented, outspoken, and confident, and our music teachers help our students reach levels greater than their own expectations.”

And as a 1987 graduate of Normandy High School, Foster was once one of those students. He was encouraged by his mentor, longtime Normandy music educator Dwayne Buggs, to further his music education at famed HBCU Morehouse College. Foster went on to appear on Broadway in productions such as “Ragtime,” “Porgy and Bess,” “A House of Flowers” and “Purlie.”

He returned from New York in 2006. Immediately after, his career as an arts educator within the Normandy Schools Collaborative started and continues nearly 15 years later.

“Normandy has a strong, successful track record in Fine Arts, and our music education programs are no exception. If you come to a performance, prepare to be in awe,” said Charles J. Pearson, superintendent of schools. “But even more importantly, the students in these programs are leaders among their peers and graduate to become successful in any endeavor, be it in music or any other field.”

Normandy offers a variety of music education options including jazz, marching and concert band, orchestra, chorale, piano, and guitar for students from third grade through high school.

“We congratulate and thank our music teachers for always giving our students their best,” Pearson said.

In order to be considered for the award, the district answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music programs, Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

The award recognizes that Normandy Schools Collaborative is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

“Congratulations to the music teachers of the Normandy Schools Collaborative for this outstanding honor,” Foster said.

Normandy Schools Collaborative produced a video earlier this school year highlighting the district’s Fine Arts programs, including its music education program. That video can be found here: https://youtu.be/R9w_LhdF-dA

‘If you come to a performance, prepare to be in awe’

Normandy Schools Collaborative music program receives national recognition 

 

By Kenya Vaughn

Of the St. Louis American

 

The Normandy Schools Collaborative has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. 

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, “Our music teachers’ commitment and passion for music education is a driving force of excellence for our students,” said Duane M. Foster, Normandy Fine Arts teacher and coordinator. “Our students are strong, resilient, passionate, loyal, talented, outspoken, and confident, and our music teachers help our students reach levels greater than their own expectations.”

And as a 1987 graduate of Normandy High School, Foster was once one of those students. He was encouraged by his mentor, longtime Normandy music educator Dwayne Buggs, to further his music education at famed HBCU Morehouse College. Foster went on to appear on Broadway in productions such as “Ragtime,” “Porgy and Bess,” “A House of Flowers” and “Purlie.”

He returned from New York in 2006. Immediately after, his career as an arts educator within the Normandy Schools Collaborative started and continues nearly 15 years later. 

“Normandy has a strong, successful track record in Fine Arts, and our music education programs are no exception. If you come to a performance, prepare to be in awe,” said Charles J. Pearson, superintendent of schools. “But even more importantly, the students in these programs are leaders among their peers and graduate to become successful in any endeavor, be it in music or any other field.”

Normandy offers a variety of music education options including jazz, marching and concert band, orchestra, chorale, piano, and guitar for students from third grade through high school.      

“We congratulate and thank our music teachers for always giving our students their best,” Pearson said. 

In order to be considered for the award, the district answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music programs, Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

The award recognizes that Normandy Schools Collaborative is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children. 

A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation entitled “Striking A Chord” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

“Congratulations to the music teachers of the Normandy Schools Collaborative for this outstanding honor,” Foster said. 

Normandy Schools Collaborative produced a video earlier this school year highlighting the district’s Fine Arts programs, including its music education program. That video can be found here: https://youtu.be/R9w_LhdF-dA

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